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Lawmakers wrangle over conditions, incentive wireless spectrum auctions

Up for grabs is an estimated $25 billion that could be generated by the auction of spectrum licenses currently held by the nation’s local TV broadcasters. Congress must first authorize the release of those licenses to the FCC for auction (broadcasters would get a cut of auction revenues in return for giving up those licenses), and legislation winding through the Senate and House would permit those auctions. However, current versions of that legislation would put stipulations on how the FCC goes about auctioning the spectrum, stipulations that the FCC argues will hinder its ability to effectively sell the airwaves to interested parties.

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And statements by the likes of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Senior Policy Counsel Rick Whitt and others reveal wide gaps in consensus on how to move forward.

“My message today is simple. We need to get it done now and we need to get it done right,” Genachowksi said. “Few areas hold more promise for creating jobs than mobile.”

But the FCC’s Rick Kaplan, chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, argued that the agency should be free to manage the auction as it sees fit, and noted that the FCC has successfully conducted more than 80 spectrum auctions.

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